The VERY glamourous new leading ladies of Bridgerton: Sex Education star who’s no stranger to a steamy on-screen romp and Oxford graduate who ditched her corporate job for stardom will play the sexiest sisters on TV
Regency romp Bridgerton is set to return to screens this week, with fans set to be treated to not one but two new leading ladies in the steamy drama.
Sex Education’s Simone Ashley, 25, plays Kate Sharma, the elder sister of Anthony Bridgerton’s intended high society bride Edwina, and has already had her fair share of raunchy scenes in her first Netflix hit drama.
In Bridgerton, she vows to prevent her only sister from marrying Anthony – but ultimately falls in love with the bachelor herself.
Her younger sister is played by fellow newcomer to the series Charithra Chandran, 25, who graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and in 2019 secured a job at a top management consultancy firm in London.
In the novel by Julia Quinn which season two is based on, The Viscount Who Loved Me, the sisters are called Kate and Edwina Sheffield, who grew up in the countryside of England.
In the show, they grew up in India – which was the case the time for many children of British officials working abroad with the East India Company.
Here FEMAIL reveals everything you need to know about the actresses who are set to play the sexiest sisters on TV in the regency romp…
Regency romp Bridgerton is set to return to screens this week, with fans set to be treated to not one but two new leading ladies in the steamy drama: Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran both, 25,
(pictured left) Simone Ashley, 25, plays Kate Sharma, the elder sister of Anthony Bridgerton’s intended high society bride Edwina, played by Charithra Chandran, 25, (right). She vows to prevent her only sister from marrying him – but ultimately falls in love with the bachelor herself.
SIMONE ASHLEY: STAR OF SEX EDUCATION (AND NO STRANGER TO A SEX SCENE)
Simone developed her acting skills at the ArtsEd School in Chiswick and has since starred in The Sister and Broadchurch.
She takes over as the leading lady from Phoebe Dynevor whose relationship with the Duke electrified season one, but luckily Simone is no stranger to kinky sex scenes, having starred in the saucy Netflix series Sex Education as Olivia.
During one particularly heated moment, Simone climbs on top of her boyfriend Malik, played by Armin Karima, while wearing full Indian dress and covers his face with a pillow during an orgasm.
She admits that having grown up in a ‘household full of Indian academics’, her ‘incredibly protective’ parents were not initially keen about her pursuing a creative career, telling Veylex that she’s found it ‘stifling at times.
Simone is no stranger to kinky sex scenes, having starred in the saucy Netflix series Sex Education as Olivia
Simone plays one of the leading roles in the second series as new girl in town Kate – a ‘headstrong young woman who suffers no fools’
In a scene from Sex Education, Simone’s character and her boyfriend put Sellotape on their faces to see each other ‘ath their ugliest’ when they have sex
‘It made me want to escape and do things my own way. I’ve always been a bit rebellious in that sense,’ she said.
Based on Julia Quinn’s romance novels, the sophomore season of the regency drama will follow the plot of Quinn’s second Bridgerton book, The Viscount Who Loved Me.
Simone plays new girl in town Kate – a ‘headstrong young woman who suffers no fools’.
Kate has no intention of allowing Anthony anywhere near her sister Edwina and vows to disrupt their courtship – but in the process manages to unintentionally lands herself in close proximity to Anthony himself.
Her encounters with the bachelor leave her feeling hot under the collar, while Anthony struggles to reconcile his feelings for his future sister-in-law.
Anthony and Kate’s storyline is set to replace the main love story of season 1, which featured Phoebe Dynevor’s portrayal of Daphne Bridgerton, wooed by the Duke of Hastings.
The actress trying out a racy party game as Olivia in the hit Netflix show Sex Education
The 25-year-old actress, who has previously starred in Sex Education, will play Kate Sharma – whose surname has been changed to reflect her casting
The character’s name has been altered to reflect Simone’s South-Asian background, changed from Kate Sheffield.
Simone has plenty of experience acting in saucy scenes, having portrayed Olivia in kinky Sex Education.
One episode sees the character climbing on top of her boyfriend to have sex with him while wearing full Indian dress while her mother sips cups of tea downstairs.
Fearing she makes an ugly face whenever she has an orgasm, she covers his face with a pillow, causing Malek to believe that she has a fetish which freaks him out.
She is later seen putting tape onto Malek’s face to make him uglier during sex so she feels at ease.
Simone has said there is ‘a lot of sexual tension’ in season two of Bridgerton which is why she will not be watching it with her parents.
The star posed for a sensational photoshoot for NET-A-PORTER’s digital magazine PORTER and in the accompanying interview, she said: ‘The second season is much grittier. There’s a lot of drama and a lot of sexual tension. My parents will be watching it – but not with me!’
While there are several prominent South Asian figures within the Regency period, it appears highly unlikely many would have been able to move seamlessly through high society in the way that characters do in Bridgerton.
CHARITHRA CHANDRAN: THE OXFORD GRADUATE WHO DITCHED CORPORATE CAREER FOR DREAMS
However, thankfully for fans of the steamy period drama, Charithra, who plays couldn’t shake the wonderful feeling that being part of her university’s theatre scene had given her.
Taking what was supposed to be just a gap year before committing to her 80-hour a week job, Charithra decided to keep acting by performing in plays and short films, while also sending off her CV and contacting different agencies.
Soon she landed her breakout role in British spy-drama Alex Rider, before winning the part in Bridgerton, which will broadcast it’s second season on March 25.
She’s landed a coveted role in season two of Netflix’s Bridgerton – yet Charithra Chandran (pictured) didn’t always believe she was set out for stardom
British-Indian actress Charithra was born and raised in Oxford, where she would later remain after setting her sights on academic success to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford university.
Proving to be a hard grafter from a young age, she worked as a waitress before landing a job as a Parliamentary Assistant in 2015.
Undergoing acting training at the National Youth Theatre from a young age, Charithra quickly found a passion for performing, often showcasing cultural Tamil and Bollywood dances on stage.
While at university, she landed the lead role of Medea at the Keble O’Reilly Theatre during her third year.
The British actress (pictured), 25, graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University and in 2019 secured a job at a top management consultancy firm in London
Taking what was supposed to be just a gap year before committing to her 80-hour a week job, Charithra (pictured) decided to keep acting by performing in plays and short films, while also sending off her CV and contacting different agencies
Meanwhile she continued acting while pursuing her academic career, appearing in plays House of Bernarda Alba and Drunk Enough to Say I Love You.
Despite graduating in 2019 with an 80-hour-per-week corporate job at a a management consultancy on her horizon, Charithra’s ambition to pursue an acting career was solidified during her gap year.
She spent time chasing as many acting opportunities as she could before being scuppered by the pandemic.
Speaking with The Face, Charithra explained how consistently spending time with creative people changed her perspective on what her future should hold.
She said: ‘I’d do more plays and rehearsals than studying… It was the best time of my life. I met the most wonderful, creative, open-minded people and it was where I was most happy’.
Despite being enamoured with an artistic lifestyle, giving up a prosperous future for one full of risk was an impossible thought for the young graduate, until she shunned expectations.
British-Indian actress Charithra was born and raised in Oxford by her parents, both of whom are doctors (pictured, as a child)
Undergoing acting training at the National Youth Theatre from a young age, Charithra (pictured) quickly found a passion for performing, often showcasing cultural Tamil and Bollywood dances on stage
British-Indian actress Charithra (pictured) was born and raised in Oxford, where she would later remain after setting her sights on academic success to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford university
Making homemade showreels and firing her CV to numerous different agencies, Charithra made sure her name was being heard, and compared leaving a corporate job behind to leaving a partner not destined for you.
‘Once you find one that you love, you realise that you didn’t really love any of your exes. They pale in comparison. That’s how I felt about acting, and I could never imagine going back,’ she said.
Explaining further to Pop Sugar, the breakout star revealed how the sacrifices her immigrant parents had only fuelled her further.
She said: ‘I owed it to myself, and I felt like I owed it to my parents for everything that they’d done for me to truly pursue the path that would give me the most happiness.’
It was this drive that landed Charithra her breakthrough role in the Alex Rider TV series.
It was during the filming for her role in Alex Rider that Charithra first got word she had impressed the Bridgerton casting team, and soon started filming both series simultaneously.
Despite the otherworldly grandeur that viewers of Bridgerton are used to seeing, Charithra felt a great responsibility to anyone who might look up to her character, Edwina.
Despite graduating in 2019 with an 80-hour-per-week corporate job at a a management consultancy on her horizon, Charithra’s (pictured) ambition to pursue an acting career was solidified during her gap year
Charithra (pictured at Oxford) graduated from Oxford in 2019 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics before changing career paths
Despite the otherworldly grandeur that viewers of Bridgerton are used to seeing, Charithra (pictured) felt a great responsibility to anyone who might look up to her character, Edwina
Explaining that her character mirrored many modern girls who were being poised to marry a man, she told The Face: ‘Edwina shows that you can take control of your life and be so much more than what people expect of you.
‘I hope she resonates and connects with people, so that they can see themselves in her.’
In a similar manner, the young actress felt a responsibility to fellow South Asian girls, and speaking to Wion, she revealed: ‘I am so excited for all the little brown girls and young women to see the both of us on screen.
‘I hope that I can serve as sort of a role model and inspire other South Asian girls to pursue their dreams.’
Despite many parents being wary of such a drastic career change, an enormous part of Charithra’s success is due to her parental support.
Growing up in Oxford, Charithra (pictured) was encouraged by her parents to pursue academia, but she soon saw they had opened opportunities to be creative, too
Despite many parents being wary of such a drastic career change, an enormous part of Charithra’s (pictured) success is due to her parental support
Both doctors, her mother and father have taken her choices in their stride, with the young actress revealing them to not be taken in by fame.
It’s this encouragement that has fuelled Charithra to not take no for an answer and follow her intuition.
‘Most of the time, it just feels natural’, she described to Wion: ‘It’s like, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing’.
Charithra previously confessed her friends told her she only bagged a role in Bridgerton ‘because she is brown’.
Besides her acting, Charithra (pictured in November 2021) enjoys Bollywood dancing, badminton and comedy, according to her agency profile
The actress (pictured in September 2021) keeps her fans up-to-date on her day-to-day life through her Instagram account, where she shares updates about her career too
She told The Telegraph: ‘People assume my success is due to a diversity quota. I’ve even had friends say to me, “Oh you got that because you’re brown,’ and that really hurts.’
‘What’s really scary is that you can start believing it and thinking, “The only reason I got cast as Edwina is because they were looking for an Indian family.”‘
Besides her acting, Charithra enjoys Bollywood dancing, badminton and comedy, according to her agency profile.
She keeps her fans up-to-date on her day-to-day life through her Instagram account, where she shares updates about her career too.
Jolly, glamorous… but MUCH less sex! Bridgerton series two receives mixed reviews – as critics warn it’s not as raunchy as the first installment of the Regency romp
Heaving bodices, opulent sets and a will-they-won’t-they romance can only mean one thing: Bridgerton is back.
Fans hoping to see more of the bare bottoms and raunchy sex scenes that made the first series such a hit are set to be disappointed, TV critics have warned in their reviews.
While there is a love story at the centre of the series, this time between Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) and Kate Sharma (Simone Ashley), it is more of a slow-build tension than the all-out, rip-your-clothes-off attraction between the Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page) and Daphne Bridgerton (Phoebe Dynevor) in series one.
In fact, the first two episodes are entirely sexless.
But the series still has plenty to offer, critics insist. They have given the series largely four star reviews which praise the show’s welcome frivolity and glamour at such a dark time.
As Dan Einav writes in the Financial Times: ‘It may never reach the status of high art, but as high camp and escapist entertainment it’s pretty irreproachable.’
Here, a taste of what the critics have to say…
Carol Midgley writes: The sex scenes in the first series of Bridgerton were considered so ‘racy’ that some of them were reportedly pirated on to porn sites.
Any viewers tuning into the bosom-heaving Regency drama’s second series hoping for more of the same, however, may find themselves slightly deflated.
While last time it was a mere three minutes into episode one before the copulating commenced, this time more restraint is shown. In fact the entire first episode is sex-free, as is the second…
It’s still candy-floss flimsy much of the time and packed with frocks, froth and cliché, but it is moreish, a splash of jolliness, glam and colour in a grim world (its timing is excellent).
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
Anita Singh writes: Bridgerton may be frivolous – and the first costume drama to kill off a character by means of anaphylactic shock from a bee sting – but it is determined to make points about women’s place in society.
As played by Claudia Jessie, Eloise is one of the best things here, bringing a spark that is missing from some of the bigger performances.
There are times when the central relationship between Anthony and Kate seems to drag on without much passion. But after bingeing the series – in the service of this review, dear reader – their romance swept me away in the end.
Bailey, dare I say it, brings more soul to the role of Lord Bridgerton than Page ever did with the Duke. And, if this is what you’re really here for, the sex is all in episode seven.
Lauren Morris writes: While the episodes are a bit too long and at points the plot is stretched quite thinly over the season, Bridgerton’s second season is just as, if not more, addictive than its first.
Aside from the focal romance, we get to see Eloise come into her own while she’s still on the hunt for the person behind Lady Whistledown, while season 2 is rather stressful for Penelope (Nicola Coughlan), who is finding it more difficult to hide the fact that she’s the one writing these gossip rags.
Ultimately, if you loved the first season, you’re going to savour every single episode of this regency romp, its intriguing new characters and the impressive performances of its excellent cast, with Jonathan Bailey shining in his well-deserved spotlight.
THE FINANCIAL TIMES
Dan Einav writes: ‘You relish this frivolity nearly as much as I do,’ says Queen Charlotte in the new series of Netflix’s Regency drama Bridgerton, addressing not only her confidant, Lady Danbury, but also those slightly sniffy viewers among us.
Yes, this is a glorified soap opera, the titanically-budgeted show seems to concede, but don’t pretend you’re not enjoying it.
To scoff at Bridgerton’s immense popularity — it was Netflix’s most watched show until the release of Squid Game — is, ironically, to mirror the haughtiness of its patrician characters.
It may never reach the status of high art, but as high camp and escapist entertainment it’s pretty irreproachable.
Nick Hilton writes: Bridgerton harbours no illusions about what it is: a profoundly unsubtle opportunity to see beautiful, bonneted people tup by candlelight.
From the overdressed sets – which have the same aesthetic as a WeWork on Valentine’s Day – to the overdressed cast, it is a show that indulges our basest qualities, but does so delightfully.
Bridgerton might be close to losing the plot, but be honest with yourself: you weren’t watching for that anyway.
Sabrina Barr writes: At the start of Bridgerton season two, one can’t shake the feeling that while it is an enjoyable watch, it doesn’t quite measure up to the magnificence of the first season.
When the show first came out, the diverse cast, modern music and steamy show of sex positivity in 19th century society made it feel refreshingly new. So matching its first outing was always going to be a challenging undertaking.
However, it is worth the wait for the new episodes to ramp up the action, romance and scandal, with the story strengthening at every turn until viewers suddenly realise how invested they have become in the midst of the decadent tale.
With Anthony and Kate — and Bailey and Ashley — Bridgerton Season 2 strikes gold.
Even the blockbuster debut season couldn’t come close. Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor) and Simon (Regé-Jean Page) gave us frequent sex scenes between two attractive actors, but the first season never realized what this season does: The true meaning of sexy.
Hiring an Indian actor as Kate gives the taut relationship the feel of a Bollywood romance, where characters frequently flirt, fantasize, and declare themselves, but never share so much as a kiss.
There are viewers who will not understand, and that is their loss. But for those who do, this author promises an unforgettable courtship that will not soon be surpassed.
How historically accurate is the casting?
The establishment of the East India Company in 1600 began a complex relationship between Britain and India, which led to a migration of South Asians from all walks of life into Britain.
The importance of cross-empire trade grew during the time of the British Raj in India, and was vital to Britain’s rapid industrialisation.
Lascar sailors worked on board ships to transport the steady flow of people and goods from India to Britain and back.
The common perception among ship-owners and the public was that lascars were essential as they could ‘stand the fiercest heat of the tropics better than any other race’.
In reality, however, it was their low wages that made them an attractive labour force: while Indian lascars were officially British subjects, they were employed on ‘Asiatic’ contracts, which meant that they received much lower pay than their European counterparts.
The hard working conditions led some lascars to settle in British ports and they became the earliest Asian working class in Britain.
Meanwhile Asian nannies, known as ayahs, played an essential part in the lives of British families in India.
Ayahs would often travel between the two countries to support wealthy families within the highest levels of society.
Among the most prominent South-Asian figures of the day was Col. James Skinner, who was one distinguished biracial child of the period and was born in 1778 in India.
His mother was an Indian princess and his father was Lieutenant-Col Hercules Skinner, an officer of the East India Company.
Among the most prominent South-Asian figures of the day was Col. James Skinner, who was one distinguished biracial child of the period and was born in 1778 in India
Because of his Indian heritage, Skinner was unable to serve as an officer in the East India Company army and, at the age of sixteen, he entered the Maratha army as an ensign under Benoît de Boigne, the French commander of Maharaja Scindia’s forces of Gwalior State.
Eventually he joined the Bengal Army of the East India Company where Lord Lake had become Commander-in-Chief of British India in 1801.
Another distinguished South-Asian figure of the period was Sake Dean Mahomed, who established the first Indian restaurant in the UK
It is said that James Skinner had fourteen wives and many children.
Another prominent South-Asian figure of the period was Sake Dean Mahomed.
As a soldier in the East India Company’s Bengal Regiment, he had first settled in Ireland in 1784, in the service of captain Baker with whom he worked for many years.
By 1810, he had established the Hindoostanee Coffee House at 34 George Street, London, Britain’s first Indian restaurant run by an Asian owner.
In 1814, he moved to Brighton, where he set up Mahomed’s Baths, treating patients with muscular ailments with a massage or champi (the origin of the word ‘shampoo’) after a steaming bath of Indian aromatic herbs and oils.
The remedy quickly became famous, and fashionable people around the country flocked to his baths. Even doctors sent their patients to Mahomed.
In 1822, King George IV appointed him his personal shampooing surgeon, an appointment continued by William IV.
In 2005, Mahomed’s memory was honoured with a plaque dedicated to his work at the site of Britain’s first curry house in London